Mónica Marie Zorrilla

Mónica covers the shows and movies that geeks love at Inverse— 28-hours-a-week, every week.

Apr 26, 2022
Published on: Inverse
2 min read

Look back closely on the Disney+ show’s costumes, and you’ll find hidden clues.

Blink and you’ll miss it. When she is first introduced in Moon Knight, Layla El-Faouly, was on a mission to unlock the mysteries of the golden scarab and mystical compass in her husband Marc Spector’s possession. But that was only in one reality.

In another — the psychiatric ward sequence toward the end of Episode 4 — all of these adventures in Egypt were suggested to only have had happened inside of Marc/Steven’s head. Until we notice one, tiny detail: a scarlet scarab, squiggled on a bandaid on Layla’s thumb.

May El Calamawy as Layla on Moon Knight.
Could the scarlet scarab on Layla’s bandaid be a direct allusion to the Marvel Comic’s character Scarlet Scarab, or merely be a scarab painted in blood-red on a jammed-up thumb?

“I wanted to make sure that all the people in the asylum were not exactly wearing the same costume, but that they had a little Easter egg from the previous iteration of the character that we have seen,” Moon Knight costume designer Meghan Kasperlik tells Inverse.

Kasperlik isn’t new to the superhero, sci-fi and supernatural wardrobe game, having worked on numerous projects in the genre space, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Rises, and Watchmen, among other television and film wardrobe credits.

This is the first time, however, that Kasperlik has worked on a Marvel Studios project for Disney+ where not only do Egyptian gods, cult leaders, and vigilantes all share screen time and need to be dressed for such, but also where the discerning tastes of MCU fans, comic book fans, mythology fans, and Oscar Isaac stans need to be considered when making design decisions.

Kasperllik discusses with Inverse how every little detail on the costumes in Moon Knight, from the hieroglyph patterns to subtle design Easter eggs, was intentional. She also sheds light on the team effort behind the epic look of the Marvel characters in the final product — a symbiotic collaboration between physical craftsmanship and computer artistry.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

The differences between Marc Spector and Steven Grant in costuming are far more subtle than their accents. Marvel Studios

Inverse: Let’s talk parallels in design between the costuming of characters in the series versus these very same characters in the “asylum” sequence in Episode 4. How did you make sure to tie in both realities?

Meghan Kasperlik: In the asylum, we see Steven, Marc, Layla, and a few other characters. I wanted to make sure that all the people in the asylum were not exactly wearing the same costume, but that they had a little Easter egg from the previous iteration of the character that we have seen.

For Steven, I wanted to make sure that his pajamas from Episode 1 were repeated, to sort of connote that he’s fallen into this space. With Marc, I wanted to keep his outfit in the similar colors of the Moon Knight costume to emphasize the continuity of the universe that he’s living in. And for Layla, well, there are a few Easter eggs within her costume that I think everyone should go back and take a little peek at.

How much research did you have to do to get the costumes of Khonshu and Taweret— and the other Egyptian gods and avatars in the show — not just culturally accurate but also “comic book” accurate?

There’s a Marvel design department that is in-house, and they are constantly working on all of Marvel’s projects. When I came on, there was a basis for the costumes of Khonshu’s and Taweret’s looks, and I started collaborating on that.

“With Taweret’s costume, it was just absolutely phenomenal.”

For the Khonshu costume, I did go back through the comics and did a tremendous amount of research about which fabrics we could work on and how we could make it tattered — I did testing on a lot of different fabrics. It is actually made of six different fabrics that are hand-sewn, because we wanted to be able to put the costume on the actor, and it needed a stretch to it, but we also needed it to be hand-sewn so he could get in and out of it feasibly.

It was very labor intensive to make multiple strips of textiles work in that way. There’s a custom leather collar and the custom leather strips that are over the chest that are hand-painted to make the Khonshu symbol stand out within his costume, and then there’s a sculpted and molded belt that goes around his waist. Everything has a little Egyptian detail within it.

Khonshu’s “tattered” and mummified look on Moon Knight was achieved with the magic of CGI and hand-sewn textiles. Marvel Studios

With Taweret’s costume, well, it was just absolutely phenomenal. I had an in-house leather worker and an in-house metalsmith, who made all the pieces. He hand-hammered all of those hieroglyphs into the leather that is on the front plate of her chest. The rings and the bracelets are handmade, which are also full of hieroglyphs and each one has symbolism. There’s a crown up on her head that is a metal plate that has been fashioned like a piece of Egyptian artwork — it is almost a replica of that.

Each one of these characters has a prayer and an oath, and we incorporated that symbolism. Taweret is a symbol of motherhood and birth, so there is a mothering birth prayer engraved within the rim of the hat. Her corset is leather, and each one of the strips of her skirt is hand-cut. I am so proud of both of those costumes and that my team made them.

Taweret’s goddess accessories needed to not only adorn the Egyptian deity but also characterize her. Marvel Studios

When it comes to the Moon Knight versus the Mister Knight costumes, what similar elements did you make sure to include for both personas?

In both personas, there’s the Khonshu symbol. The Khonshu oath is in the Moon Knight costume — in hieroglyphs — and also within the crescent. Within the cape and the underlining of it, when it opens, is Khonshu’s oath. The hieroglyphs are in a repeating pattern under it in a foil-like fabric.

The Moon Knight costume ended up being a bit more challenging because the costume was put together in the UK, but we were in Budapest. I couldn’t fly back and forth, and the actors couldn’t fly without quarantining, so we sent the stunt people there, and they fit the costume to make sure it was fully functional. And then we fit Oscar once the costume arrived in Budapest, but he never actually went to the UK to try it on.

What’s the most entertaining and challenging aspect of costuming superheroes who are adapted for on-screen projects?

The most interesting part of it all is the reaction from the fans. Everyone will always have a lot of excitement or want to talk about it. The Mister Knight costume was hyped, and it was received very pleasantly. There has been a really great response to it. But, when designing any costume — it doesn’t have to be superhero — the most important thing is it needs to fit the character, and it needs to be functional.

Moon Knight’s costume needed to be fully functional so that he could convincingly take down the bad guys.Marvel Studios

So, for the Moon Knight costume, we needed to ensure that Oscar could handle the suit as well as the stunt people. They had it on almost the entire time they were doing their stunts. Obviously, on any Marvel show, there’s the CGI, but we still wanted to make sure that it was functional so that it could stretch, they could do all the moves they needed to do, and they could breathe with the masks on and all of that. It was a big goal of mine, and we achieved it.

What is it like to see your costumes manipulated with CGI? How involved are you in the digital/special effects process to make sure that your textiles translate well for on-screen?

I have to say that the VFX team did such an amazing job. They wanted to make sure to keep true to what the design was and what I did, and they wanted to make sure that it was portrayed on screen without it being completely changed. I spoke with them daily, and I gave them fabric samples from the beginning. They were constantly asking for pattern pieces because they wanted to make sure that the integrity of the garment was in the show. So, I cannot thank them enough because what was created for the screen is really there— except of course, for the flying and the movement of the costume.

Moon Knight Episode 5 drops on Disney+ on Wednesday, April 27.